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At 26 mi long, Blue Mesa Reservoir ranks as Colorado's largest body of water. Located within the Curecanti National Recreation Area, the reservoir was created in the mid-1960s when the state dammed the Gunnison River. It has become a mecca for water-sports enthusiasts. Anglers are drawn by the 3 million stocked kokanee salmon and rainbow, lake, brown, and brook trout.
If you have your own boat, you can use the ramps at Elk Creek (northern end at Soap Creek Arm), Stevens Creek (eastern end of the north shore), and Lake Fork (eastern end on the south shore). A two-day boat permit is $4, and a two-week permit is $10. Annual boat permits run $30.
Elk Creek Marina. About 16 miles west of Gunnison, this marina on Blue Mesa Reservoir offers a range of services: boat and slip rentals, gas, ice, bait, and supplies. A small restaurant, Pappy's, is located above the dock, where you can enjoy a light meal while watching anglers try their luck. 24830 U.S. 50, Gunnison, CO, 81230. 970/641–0707. www.thebluemesa.com. Closed Oct.–Apr.